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RSS was a thing on the internet that never really went away

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There are people to this day that really, really miss Google Reader.

What I'm going to talk about is a nerdy internet thing but not really, because once you know what RSS is, yeah, you're going to want it.

RSS is Really Simple Syndication. Some web sites (such as the one you're reading right now) have a feed you can subscribe to. Ordinarily, "subscribe" is a dirty word, but not in this instance because you never give out any personal info to use it. All you take is the feed address of a web site you like (such as https://menga.net/feed), put it into your feed aggregator a.k.a. feed reader software, and whenever the site published a new article, ta-da, you get updated...

...and that brings me to Google Reader. A ton of people used this and loved it, but Google shut it down in 2013. And as I said above, there are still people to this day that really miss it. Some users had 25+ web site feeds or more in there where they could easily track the latest articles.

What made Google Reader as well as other feed readers great was the fact you could keep up with the web sites you liked without having to load each one individually in separate tabs. All the sites you liked, all in one place and easy to manage.

Mozilla Firefox at one point did have a version of this called Live Bookmarks. It wasn't exactly like Google Reader, but you could list feeds side-by-side with regular bookmarks that automatically updated themselves whenever a new article was posted. It was great and it worked... until Mozilla took it away in 2018.

The image you see above is newsboat, a simple yet very nice feed reader for Linux that runs in Terminal. Really easy to set up, really fast and updated regularly. I can do everything in newsboat that a feed reader is supposed to do. Subscribe to feeds, categorize them, combine feeds into subcategories, and so on. Newsboat is good software.

When I started using newsboat, I was reminded of how good a feed reader really is, so much to the point I use it regularly now.

RSS never "died". Feed addresses that work in feed readers are still a mainstay of many web sites, this one included.

However, it is true that a lot of people simply don't know that RSS exists. It does, and you could use it right now.

And yes, there are feed reader apps for the phone. Search your app store and you'll find them. On mobile, it's absolutely easier to use a feed reader instead of loading web sites one by one or one app per site (which would get ridiculous real quick).

Published 2023 Sep 7

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